One step closer to victory.
This is how Negros Oriental’s Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, the wife of slain Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, reacted to the order of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 15 on the immediate cancellation of the Philippine passport of former Negros Oriental Representative Arnolfo Teves.
The decision of the court was released on February 8.
“Ngayon nakikita na natin na talagang sana ito may patutunguhan na because the cancellation of his passport is really a big thing, it truly will make his world really small, talagang liliit ang mundo niya,” Degamo said.
She said this would also provide closure for the relatives of those who were killed during the assassination of Degamo.
Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said victims have long sought the cancellation of Teves’ passport.
“Well ganito lang ‘yan, sa pagkansela ng passport ni Mr. Teves, walang makakaligtas sa hustisya. Tandaan niyo ‘yan, sooner or later, maski saan ka magpunta, saan ka magtago, hahanapin ka ng batas at mananagot ka sa kasalanan mo, at ‘yan ang sinasabi natin sa ating mga kababayan. Nangyari ito last year, tayo’y nabigla sa lahat ng ito. Sinasabi ng taong bayan, ‘Nasaan ang hustisya?’ Heto na po ang hustisya, nandyan na,” Abalos said.
The court decision ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to immediately cancel the passport of Teves, who is believed to be hiding in Timor-Leste.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) was also ordered to facilitate the return of Teves to the country.
Teves’ lawyer, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, said they would appeal the decision.
“For one, we can always file a motion for reconsideration before the same court that granted the motion of the Department of Justice to cancel the passport and failing to get that, we can always go to higher judicial authority. Rest assured we will exhaust all legal means to seek justice for our client, and we will let the court decide on the outcome of this appeal,” he said.
He claimed the passport cancellation has no basis.
“Technically speaking, there are no grounds for cancellation because there are only three grounds: If you acquired the passport in fraudulent means, which is not alleged here, or if a passport holder has been convicted of any crimes, which is also not the situation in this case,” he said.
Topacio also said his client still plans to return to the Philippines.
“He is planning to do that. He is a Filipino citizen; he has obligations to his constituency, he is a member of the House of Representatives. But he will go back when he feels that the danger or the threats to his life have abated, and he was able to get impartial and fair justice from the executive branch of the government,” Topacio claimed.
In August 2023, Teves was unanimously expelled by the House of Representatives due to abandonment of duty, prolonged absence, and “indecent behavior on social media.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Degamo said she is a bit disappointed with the progress of her husband’s case.
“‘Yung nga ‘yung palagi kong sinasabi na while we appreciate very much the due process, kung paano kino-conduct ‘yung paghingi ng hustisya, talagang trying to be fair on all sides, pero sa totoo lang, ‘yung due process is very favorable dun sa mga culprit, sa side ng mga victims. Talagang masasabi rin namin, it’s really quite a long way. While I do not want to be discouraged because I can also see the government trying to help us solve our problem with the criminal acts done by Congressman Teves in Negros Oriental, we cannot also help but, still a little bit disappointed na talagang medyo slow lang talaga ‘yung takbo ng kaso because siguro nga talaga sa due process ganun eh,” she said. (ABS-CBN News)